Nov 032023

Run up that hill back to the beginning.

10. The Hound + The Fox — Running Up That Hill

Everyone wanted to be running up that hill after Stranger Things reminded us of this Kate Bush classic. The Hound + The Fox strip it back to primarily acoustic guitar with some supporting background sounds that round out the backbeat, like a heartbeat. However, even in a simpler form, the song keeps its haunting sound and reverent tone. Now, as a duet, the two sing together while placed apart in the music video. Towards the end there is a brief moment where one is the echo of another, stressing the space between them. – Sara Stoudt

9. Chris Anderson ft. Erin Bentlage — Joanni

“Joanni” might just be the least-often-covered song on this entire list. It comes from her 2005 album Aerial, and wasn’t even the single (that would be “King of the Mountain”). Composer Chris Anderson drew from some pretty deep wells of music knowledge on his album Song Cycle, tackling everyone from Laurie Anderson and John Cage with an array of guest vocalists. His “Joanni” with Erin Bentlage makes a deep cut sound like a classic. – Ray Padgett

8. Mike Scott — Why Should I Love You?

I was possibly the last to know that the Kate Bush version was chock full of Prince, an admirer of the singer. But, on listening, it figures. However, Mike Scott, of the Waterboys, who has also covered the Purple one, picks up much more of the Bushier, folkier side, utilising the recurring instrumental motif and the vocal melody near alone, at least as it starts. This draws out the simple beauty of both, his quizzical vocal, with the then rather more conventional rock rhythm section seeming better fitted for his style of singing. With lyrics around Sacred Hearts and Jesus laughing, this is such typical Scott fare, it was only late in the day I realised it a cover. However, he clearly loved the song, it being not the only time he covered it, as this later Waterboys version shows. – Seuras Og

7. Sergeant Thunderhoof — Cloudbusting

Sergeant Thunderhoof, self-proclaimed purveyors of “psychedelic, groove rock from the dark realms of Somerset” didn’t go halfway on their sky-parting, mountain-moving cover of this epic anthem of belief, love, and rain-making. Their version is a truly heartfelt block of beauteous sludge. They were so into it that they added three whole minutes to the song just to accommodate extra riffage. And hey, big bombastic bonus points and a giant “Wow” for its fabulously reverential video. – Hope Silverman

6. Maxwell — This Woman’s Work

Soul singer Maxwell has actually recorded two versions of his cover of “This Woman’s Work.” The first was for his Unplugged album and the second a studio version he released four years later. This is one of Bush’s most popular songs, at least in TV and film, and he transforms into a classic neosoul ballad. In the first, live version, he sings the entire song in falsetto in an incredible, passionate performance. In the studio version, he adds a few lines at the low end of his multi-octave range, adding new dynamics to his performance. Both versions are worth listening to, showing off Maxwell’s command of his voice, but also his ability to recontextualize this delicate ballad. – Riley Haas

5. Ada Unn — L’amour Looks Something Like You

Piano and percussion are traded for a harp in this cover, giving it a medieval aura fitting of a modern re-telling of Romeo and Juliet. Ada Unn sings at a lower pitch, but still maintains that ethereal, light effect that Kate Bush produces. The harp is not overdone but rather strategic. Its trills hit words like “shivery” with a sonic shimmer that certainly gets that “energy rushing” in the listener’s ears. – Sara Stoudt

4. N.Q. Arbuckle feat. The Roaring Girl Cabaret — Army Dreamers

On her journey from being a UK National Treasure to becoming an International Treasure, Kate Bush has given the world very few of her views. This does not seem to be a commercial decision, a la Michael Jordan and sneakers, but a genuine belief that, as an artist, that the work speaks for itself. In Bush’s case it generally speaks of the glories of art in all its forms. Bush felt that the video for this song was one of the most perfect expressions of that art. Nevertheless, in 1991 she had a song banned from the UK airwaves by the BBC. During the first Gulf War, the broadcaster felt that pointing out that the death toll in that war, or any war, would fall disproportionately on those who were patriots, but who may not have had the chance to develop themselves in other ways beyond being in the Military, was not a message that they wanted emphasised.

Lounge band Roaring Girl Cabaret, and their partner for this song, fellow Canadian NQ Arbuckle, bring a steampunk mentality to the song. Understandably they do not adopt the Irish accent that Bush did, and the action is apparently moved away from the building in which the mother’s child was received, and into a bar some time later (hours, days, years?) is a stark reminder that the consequences of loss last long after the initial pain. – Mike Tobyn

3. The Futureheads — Hounds of Love

The Futureheads’ 2004 cover of the title track of Kate Bush’s most iconic album seemed sacrilegeous at first, at a time when the singer had become something of a myth towards the end of a twelve-year absence from the music scene. What the hell did these Gang of Four soundalikes from Sunderland UK mean with their ludicrous vocal impressions of hounds (of love) barking? Were they making mock of the song and its extended metaphor of love as a savage hunter?

But it didn’t take long to figure out that the post-punk indie quartet had actually unleashed, in earnest, the most exhilarating rendition of a Kate Bush song, giving it the kind of jittery urgency that put them at the vanguard of a fresh new crop of UK guitar groups that included Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, and Maximo Park. They emerged from the cacophonous intro with choppy guitars, interlocking vocals, and an agitated punk-funk rhythm, before going into thrashing overdrive in the final third of the song. They created a track ripe for sweaty indie clubs in the process, which sped to #8 on the UK chart in 2005, ten places higher than Kate’s Fairlight-assisted original in 1986. They further won NME’s Best Single of 2005 with their reinvention of the song, after Kate herself reportedly called them up at their studio to tell them how much she loved it. The myth left a message on their answer machine. – Adam Mason

2. Avec Sans — Running Up That Hill

Few would argue with the idea that “Running Up That Hill” is a classic, but when you listen to the original, you could argue that Bush’s song and vocal performance is undercut a bit by the thin production. This song is meant to be massive, but the tinny drum machines and dated synths make it only pretty-big—or, at least, tie it more closely to its era. Avec Sans’ cover modernizes and energizes it, crashing in with a vengeance, upping the adrenaline without losing any of the magic that made the song great in the first place. – Ray Padgett

1. The Staves — Cloudbusting

The Staves bring rich harmonies to anything they do, and this cover is no exception. While the original has a military march sound, complete with drumline-style snare drum, this version has a mandolin that ducks and weaves throughout, a fourth voice of sorts entwining with the braid of the trio’s vocals. This version sounds just a little bit more hopeful than the original (although still with that underlying yearning), like something good really is going to happen. – Sara Stoudt

Check out more installments in our monthly ‘Best Covers Ever’ series, including Dolly Parton, Madonna, Radiohead, and more.

Cover Me is now on Patreon! If you love cover songs, we hope you will consider supporting us there with a small monthly subscription. There are a bunch of exclusive perks only for patrons: playlists, newsletters, downloads, discussions, polls - hell, tell us what song you would like to hear covered and we will make it happen. Learn more at Patreon.

  One Response to “The 30 Best Kate Bush Covers Ever”

Comments (1)
  1. Martin Newnham: Really great cover! Tight, almost terse guitar work. Love it!

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>